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English II H/5
7 March, 2014
The Effects of Parsley in Danticat's The Farming of Bones
One word can hold the power to move mountains. In The Farming of Bones, this word is perejil, which is Spanish for parsley. All throughout the novel, Haitian people are killed because of their inability to trill their "r's" the way the Dominican people do. Odette, a Haitian woman who died while fleeing to Haiti during Trujillo's massacre, used "her parting breath" to "[mouth] in Kreyol, pÃÂ©si" (Danticat 202). This quote exemplifies the theme of having pride in one's heritage because it shows the significance of parsley to the Haitian people and enlightens readers on the suffering they had to endure. Finally, Odette reclaims the word parsley and boldly challenges General Rafael Trujillo with this quote.
First, parsley was an important part of both the Haitian and Dominican people's lives.
They used parsley "for [their] food, [their] teas, [their] baths, to cleanse [their] insides as well as [their] outsides" and for many other things (Danticat 62). Parsley was often used for cleansing, and perhaps that was what Trujillo had in mind when choosing the word to test the Haitians with. He wanted to "cleanse" his country and used a single word with an 'r' that was meant to be trilled to decide who was supposed to be there. To the Haitians, a word that once had a pleasant connotation suddenly had a frightening one. Because of it's purpose and pronunciation, parsley was a significant part of many people's lives.
Next, all throughout this novel, Haitians had to endure a large amount of suffering. They were tortured for the way they looked and spoke. Many of the characters, including a...